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HIP202 Research Skills Guide: Types of Questions

Types of Questions

Once you have formulated your clinical question, it is useful to consider what sort of question it is. In evidence-based healthcare, the question might not necessarily be about an intervention to treat an illness or condition. There are several types of questions:

Diagnosis Questions about what tests/tools can be used, or their reliability, for screening or diagnosing a particular disorder/disease with a particular population group
Prognosis Questions about factors that increase the likelihood of a person having/getting or recovering from a particular disorder/disease, or factors that decrease the likelihood of having/getting a condition, in a particular population group
Aetiology Questions about why a person gets a particular illness or condition
Intervention Questions about what interventions are effective, or their relative effectiveness, for achieving a particular outcome with a particular population group
Experiences Questions about people’s lived experiences (eg. concerns, challenges, what helps) in relation to a particular condition

Identifying the type of question can be important because it might help you determine the type of study that you might look for when you come to search for evidence. In fact, sometimes the PICO is extended out to become PICOTT, where the two Ts are for:

Type of Question  - as above

Type of Study - This asks what study design would best answer the question: randomised controlled trial; cohort study; case controlled studycase series; case report etc.

For more on Types of Question and Types of Study, see the Levels of Evidence page in the Library's Evidence-Based Practice guide.